Loudoun Station Breaks Ground
Comstock builds transit-orient development as Metro's Silver Line to Ashburn progresses.
Loudoun Station – one of two developments that hope the Metro board chooses their name for the planned rail station – broke ground Wednesday on what is envisioned as a transit-oriented fusion of homes, shops, restaurants and offices, and the last stop on Metro’s planned Silver Line.
Whether Loudoun Station, or its rival across the Dulles Greenway, Moorefield Station, wins the station name game – if either – riders will be able to jump on a train and ride all over the Washington Metropolitan region.
The site is located along the south side of Shellhorn Road – basically behind the existing Home Depot. Comstock Partners LC plans to develop up to 1,500 homes, 300,000 square feet of retail and restaurant uses, more than 1 million square feet of office space, a hotel and about 100 affordable dwelling units that will go into the county's program for qualified low-income buyers.
“We’re excited about today’s groundbreaking and Comstock’s role in transforming the Dulles Corridor,” said Comstock CEO Christopher Clemente. Comstock estimates the development will create 15,000 jobs.
Leaders from Comstock, Loudoun and the federal government posed Wednesday with shiny silver shovels as bulldozers, backhoes and huge dump trucks, obscured from view, moved huge mounds of dirt beyond a skirted fence.
“I love that sound,” Commissioner of the Revenue Robert S. Wertz Jr. commented as the heavy machines roared. The development is expected to drive substantial new tax revenue for the county.
Such kickoffs are beginning again in Loudoun, particularly in Ashburn after a years-long lull. The Loudoun Station ceremony came just weeks after One Loudoun broke ground along Rt. 7 (story to come on One Loudoun).
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has partnered with Comstock to promote transit-oriented affordable housing, providing a $70.1 million loan. HUD Sec. Shaun Donovan joined in for Wednesday’s ceremony.
“This is exactly the type of public-private partnership that smart government should be about,” Donovan said, making sure to hit at least one of President Obama's current political sound bites – win the future. “These kinds of partnerships are absolutely essential as we work to connect every American family to housing, but more broadly to the opportunities they need to win the future.”
At the same time, Donovan pointed to the tax revenue and economic development possibilities.
“Right now we’re literally standing on a potential anchor for economic growth for this county and the entire metropolitan area,” he said, pointing to the importance of connecting such an anchor to the region with multi-modal transportation options.
If Phase 2 of Metro’s Silver Line continues on track as planned the Silver Line will be up and running in 2017, by current estimates. Of course recent headaches over cost increases and who will pay for them, as well as financing questions for the responsible parties, have caused some concern about potential delays. But overall, optimism was high about Wednesday's grounbreaking.
“This was the first mixed-use, transit-oriented development approved in Loudoun County,” Comstock spokeswoman Maggie Parker explained. It was approved in 2004, but the county began contemplating changes to its comprehensive plan at least a decade earlier. “They saw value in transit-oriented housing.”
Loudoun County Chairman Scott K. York (I-At Large) said he remembered being involved with some of the earlier talks as a planning commissioner back in 1994.
“We were ahead of our time. We wanted to be prepared for rail,” he said. “To see it come to fruition and to know that my chances are better now to see it before I’m pushing up daisies is wonderful.”
For more information about the project, check Comstock’s Web site.